Shadow IT sparks battles between tech pros and end users

Employees taking it upon themselves to adopt unsanctioned collaboration tools are causing tension and raising security risks, a new study says.
By Nathan Eddy
09:06 AM

An influx of unauthorized collaboration tools is putting IT departments at loggerheads with employees over security concerns and demands to use tools of their preference.

A NextPlane survey of 750 IT professionals across various industries, in fact, found a majority (82 percent) of end-users are pushing back on IT when it tries to dictate which collaboration tools should be used.  

Overall, 67 percent of end users or teams have introduced their own team collaboration tools into their organization, with IT departments and executive management primarily responsible for setting IT policy for the hardware and software employees use to do their jobs.

WHY IT MATTERS

As companies face growing competition for valuable talent, nearly seven in 10 respondents said that if a highly valued employee threatened to quit over which tools they can or cannot use, the company would capitulate rather than risk losing the employee.

But the report also indicated IT is standing its ground, with nearly two thirds (63 percent) of IT pros surveyed saying they prevail when employees push back.

“In the wake of an influx of new collaboration tools, IT is left to deal with pushback from their end-users as well as platform fragmentation when preferences don’t align and the fallout that goes with that,” Farzin Shahidi, CEO of NextPlane, said in a statement.

Even as IT prevails most of the time, a small resistance remains among end users to use the collaboration tools of their choice, with 13 percent saying that the employees continued using the tools of their choice in defiance of IT and the company.

Despite the pushback, more often than not, the company has final say over which collaboration tools are used, with more than half (54 percent) confirming the company has the final say on all of the collaboration tools end users use to do their jobs.

“IT needs a collaboration strategy that takes into account the preferences of its end-users without compromising seamless collaboration and communication across teams and the entire organization,” Shahidi continued.

THE RISK: CYBERSECURITY

The report comes as secure texting platforms are evolving into a collaboration platform to combat the complexities and protocols of healthcare communications.

As cybersecurity threats endure and evolve, care teams seek to maintain secure communications that ensure patients receive essential care, with 83 percent of physician practices surveyed in a 2018 Black Book report engaging secure communication platforms between care teams, patients and families.

The NextPlane survey found as new technology is introduced without IT's approval or involvement, the top risk to the organization was the security of the company's data and information, and less than a quarter (23 percent) felt confident they have visibility into inventory and usage when it comes to team collaboration tools.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this month reported an “all-time record year” in healthcare breach enforcement activity, with organizations paying out more than $28 million in settlement fees in 2018. 

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.

Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com

Twitter: @dropdeaded209

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.